Which hormone causes excessive hunger

Ghrelin: How the hunger hormone controls your eating behavior

Do you feel hungry all the time? Then the hormone ghrelin could be involved. Because of its appetizing effect, the messenger substance has a reputation as a fattening agent. Find out here what influence ghrelin really has on your eating behavior.

What is ghrelin?

Ghrelin is one of the most important Metabolic hormones. Released in the stomach lining and in the pancreas, the messenger substance regulates ours Feeling of hunger and satiety. Because of his appetizing effect Ghrelin is also known as the "hunger hormone". (1)

But ghrelin can do more than make us hungry. The name Ghrelin stands for "Growth Hormone Release Inducing"which stands for “release of growth hormones”. This means that the messenger substance controls the release of essential hormones that are involved in growth processes. In addition, ghrelin is said to have an influence on our sleep behavior and mood.

The antagonist to Ghrelin is Leptin. The messenger substance is formed in the fat cells and, unlike ghrelin, has an appetite suppressant effect. His middle name is "satiety hormone". In interaction, the metabolic hormones control our eating behavior.

How does ghrelin work in the body?

Does your mouth water at the sight of a pizza? Or are you really hungry and can't stop thinking about food? In either case, the hormone ghrelin could have a hand in it. It unfolds its appetite-stimulating effect if you have not ingested food for a long time. Then the ghrelin concentration in the blood rises and signals the body: high time to eat something!

After a meal, concentration drops and a feeling of satiety sets in.

These metabolic processes are extremely efficient and useful. Thanks to its intermediary, ghrelin, your body notifies you as soon as energy is needed in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Ghrelin is therefore essential for survival. (2)

The hormone is even said to have a positive influence on mood: Studies (3) show that ghrelin can relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. You may gain weight with increased ghrelin levels, but you will also feel better.

The effects of ghrelin at a glance:

  • increases the feeling of hunger
  • slows down your metabolism
  • inhibits fat burning
  • regulates blood sugar levels
  • reduces feelings of anxiety and depressive moods

Reasons for a ghrelin excess

Ghrelin can be our friend and helper, but it can also become an enemy.

The problem: through Diets, stress and lack of sleep you bring the sophisticated metabolic system out of balance.

After weight loss, when you are constantly stressed or overtired, the level of ghrelin in the blood rises. As a result, your feelings of hunger and satiety could be disturbed and your appetite could hardly be tamed. This could explain why you tend to grab snacks more often after you've had a short night or are feeling emotionally stressed. The so-called yo-yo effect can also be attributed to ghrelin.

In summary, the main causes of excess grhelin in the blood are: malnutrition, chronic stress and lack of sleep. (4)

How can the hunger hormone be controlled?

If you want to find a healthy feeling of hunger and satiety, your ghrelin production should be in balance. The good news: The distribution is largely influenced by your lifestyle, so that you can largely control the hunger hormone yourself.

# 1 Get a good night's sleep

Lack of sleep causes ghrelin levels to skyrocket. As a result, you not only feel weak, but also excessively hungry. So it pays to increase the quality of your sleep. The better you sleep, the more leptin is released. The counterpart to ghrelin ensures that you feel more full the next day and that the snack drawer stays closed without any problems.

7 tips for a good night's sleep

# 2 Eat enough, especially protein and fiber

A balanced diet is essential to keep your ghrelin levels in check. If your body is deficient, it forgets how to break down the hunger hormone after a meal. Your appetite is wild and the risk of food cravings increases. For you this means: stay away from crash diets!

Basically, make sure that you eat high in protein and consume enough carbohydrates and fats. Your diet should also contain enough fiber as well as vitamins and minerals that stimulate metabolic processes. Read here, which foods are good for your metabolism.

# 3 Relax

Stress, especially if it is chronic, has a negative effect on ghrelin production. No wonder that the handle goes to the chocolate more often, especially in stressful phases. When you're tired of this effect, relax. Exercise, lots of fresh air, and meditation or wellness are good ways to slow down.

Our tip: A crisp HIIT workout can not only help you reduce stress, but also reduce ghrelin concentration in the short term. Need some inspiration? Here are tons of “filling” workouts for you - completely free!

To the workouts


  • Ghrelin is a metabolic hormone that regulates the feeling of hunger and satiety.
  • The messenger substance ghrelin stimulates the appetite, its counterpart leptin suppresses the appetite. Together they control eating behavior.
  • Ghrelin plays a central role in the metabolism and triggers the release of growth hormones, which is why the messenger substance is essential for survival.
  • Malnutrition, for example from crash diets, stress and lack of sleep can lead to an excess of ghrelin. A disturbed feeling of hunger and satiety can be the result.
  • With a balanced diet, an active lifestyle and enough rest you can keep your hunger hormones in balance and regulate your weight as well.
At foodspring, we only use high-quality sources and scientific studies that support our statements in articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn how we check facts so that our articles are always correct, reliable and trustworthy.
  • (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049314/

  • (2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29097101/

  • (3) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422152804.htm


  • (4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756630/